Florida state Rep. Anthony Sabatini (R) said Wednesday that his state is doing “just fine” and denied it was the epicenter of the U.S.’s coronavirus outbreak.
During a CNN interview, Sabatini criticized media outlets for focusing “exclusively” on the number of cases in states, instead of metrics on hospitalizations and deaths.
“The media is almost exclusively focused on this one number versus the two most important numbers, obviously, hospitalizations and fatalities, where in most parts of the states flatlined or gone down, especially in mine,” he said.
“So if we focus on the two more relevant metrics, Florida’s doing just fine,” he added.
CNN’s Brianna Keilar pushed Sabatini on his claim, saying, “You talk about this being an extraordinary circumstance, but we are in an extraordinary circumstance. We’re in a pandemic, and Florida’s not doing just fine.”
The GOP state representative, who has filed several lawsuits against mask mandates in Florida, objected to Keilar’s comments, prompting her to ask, “You think Florida’s doing fine right now?”
“Absolutely, I think the governor’s response has been on point, and I think that the metrics that matter the most, we’re doing very well in,” he said. “If you’re counting cases, you’re going to scare people.”
Keilar again sparred with Sabatini, saying, “Sir, you’re the epicenter of a global pandemic, and you can’t even admit that.”
“That’s actually a false assessment entirely,” the state representative responded. “I don’t even know what you mean by epicenter. The whole world’s dealing with this issue right now. There’s going to be a lot of cases in areas of high population.”
“Everybody knew they were going to go up. When you open an economy, cases go up,” he added. “Does that mean higher risk? Absolutely not.”
Florida has seen an increasing number of COVID-19 deaths this month, with the state recording its highest single-day death toll of 132 deaths on Tuesday, according to New York Times data. The number of overall fatalities has reached 4,521, according to state data.
The state also saw its highest daily increase of hospitalizations on Tuesday with 300 people hospitalized, CBS News reported. The Agency for Health Care Administration reported 54 hospital intensive care units at capacity and another 40 with less than 10 percent bed availability, NBC News reported.
Florida has the third most cases out of any state in the U.S. and currently ranks eighth in fatalities, according to New York Times data.